Audi’s new A8 flagship will be the first car available with a sat-nav system that can display Google Earth images and detailed 3D images of European city centres. The A8’s Google Earth option will be available from the middle of next year.
Audi says it has incorporated an ‘nVidia 3D graphics processor’ of the type used in desktop and laptop computers into the A8’s electrical system so the car’s sat-nav screen can render ‘entire maps topographically, with shading tunnels and bridges.’
Eventually, when it is fully established, Audi expects to offer Google Street view as part of the navigation system.
Three-dimensional representations of European cities are also being added to the Internet databases and Audi sources said that travel information via Wikipedia and detailed weather reports would also be particularly useful to A8 drivers.
Audi is using a GPRS/EDGE module for its standard on-board Internet connection but will add a UMTS module in 2010, which allows the latest in high-speed data transfer via the mobile network.
It’s the UTMS technology – along with an on-board 2Gb memory buffer - that will allow the Google Earth images to be downloaded to the car. Audi engineers say that A8’s ability to maintain an Internet connection only diminishes when travelling at above 125mph.
The A8 also has the ability to play MPEG-4 video files and DVDs. It can also stream music via a Bluetooth connection and play videos from an external source.
Another advantage of the UTMS connection is the ability to download the album cover artwork for a music collection, which can then be displayed as a flip chart on the car’s screen.
A high-speed data link to the car will also allow for future innovations such as on-the-fly engine diagnostics and engine management updates for different driving conditions.